Friday, January 18, 2013

Hay Is Not Just for Horses

Chinchilla. Photo: Justin Qian
So I'm pretty sure all of you are aware that horses and cows eat hay. But did you know that there are lots of other domestic pets that eat hay as well? Hay is a vital part to many small mammal's diets. Some reptiles even eat it. Therefore, hay is not just for horses, but rather a wide variety of pets.

Pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, prairie dogs, and even some types of tortoises all need hay in their diet. It is important to their health in more than one way.

The small mammals on the list need to eat hay for a variety of reasons. First of all, the hay helps keep their teeth worn down. Rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and prairie dogs' teeth continuously grow throughout their life. By chewing on hay all day long, their teeth are worn down and are less likely to cause these pets any trouble. These small mammals should always have timothy hay available to them to munch on.


Second, the hay helps keep a small mammal's gut healthy. Rabbits and other small mammals have a very sensitive GI tract that always needs to be kept in motion. This is one reason why they poop a lot - but it's normal!  If a small mammal's gut stops moving, life-threatening GI stasis poses a threat. Another important reason to always provide your small mammal with plenty of hay to eat throughout the day.

Even Sulcatta tortoises and other desert tortoises need a diet that is composed mostly of hay and grass. About 85% of their diet should consist of these foods. In the wild, these tortoises spend hours grazing and foraging for food in the form of grass. Their diet is very high fiber. When they are not fed the proper ratio of hay and grass, they are at risk for a number of health problems including diarrhea and even kidney disease. For more information about desert tortoise diets, please visit anapsid.org. The information there is very good and trustworthy.

Tortoises enjoying their lunch. Photo: Keith Riley-Whittingham

So as you can see, hay is not just for horses and cows. There are so many other pets that need hay in order to stay healthy. And you would be surprised the number of people I have met who have owned these animals and had no idea that they needed to feed them hay! If you are thinking of acquiring a rabbit, guinea pig, prairie dog, chinchilla, tortoise, or any other exotic pet - please do extensive research first!

31 comments:

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    1. Oh kitty! That made me laugh out loud!

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  2. We did not know about hay for small mammals. Mind you mice and rats I suppose love hay. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. I recently read that rats might like hay, but have never really heard that before.

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  3. Great post Ann so many people don't realize how important it is

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    1. I know! I just talked to a woman on Twitter this morning about her bunny. I'm not sure she realizes how important hay is either!

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  4. We didn't know all those critters ate hay. Great information for those who have these little pets :) Have a great Furiday xxx00xxx

    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. Hey Mollie, yep it's super important!

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  5. I would definitely eat hay if I could find any. I eat pretty much anything when Mom isn't looking. Most of the time she catches me and yanks delicious things (like candy wrappers and goose poop) out of my mouth. Hay... Yum!

    Love and licks,
    Cupcake

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    1. Lol, well Miss Cupcake, you sound a lot like my human baby! She would probably like to eat some hay too!

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  6. Great post! Many people don't know how many animals actually eat hay! We make small hay bags specifically for small animals and even chicken coops! They are very popular!

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  7. We had bunnies and guinea pigs when we were kids. We always bought them hay, but your article really helped me understand WHY that was important. :)

    Thanks, Ann!

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    1. Glad you were able to learn something :)

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  8. I just nominated you for an award!

    http://daisyandcress.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/we-won-award.html?m=1

    We love hay!

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    1. Thanks guys, I'll be sure to check it out!

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  9. I did not realize it was that many. Yes, Rumbles comment made me giggle too!

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  10. @Rumbles...HAHAHA!!! Good one.

    He sure is a cutie!
    ; ) Katie

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  11. I looked after quite a few different exotic pets, and I was at first surprised about the hay! Also, we have an award for you on our blog :-)

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    1. Thank you for the award Rocco! I appreciate it!

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  12. Mowzers, we had no idea! Thanks for the info! A constantly in use GI tract. *shakes head*

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  13. Thats really good advice. I wish more people would read up before they adopt any pet.


    Loveys Sasha

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  14. That is so true. Our donkeys eat hay and so did the goats. It is very good for all of them. Great post. Take care.

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  15. hay does indeed make the animal world go round in more ways than we all knew, thanks for this interesting information, paw pats Savannah

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  16. It is great to raise awareness of some of the dietary requirements of some non-traditional pets. Good topic!

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    1. Thank you Carol! I appreciate you stopping by.

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  17. My bunny gets hay! She get timothy and orchard grass and this one that smells extra delicious because it has some chamomile flowers and other things in it! I like to eat her hay too, but mom always says no, so I have to sneak it...

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    1. Lol, aww poor Remy. I don't think dogs need any hay in their diet, but I'm sure a little here and there wouldn't hurt anything!

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